Is the UK on track to adapt to climate change?

The UK government, alongside others worldwide, has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in an attempt to curb the consequences of climate change. But current global pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren’t yet enough to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, and warming levels of 3°C or more remain possible by the end of the century.

To shine a light on the importance of adapting to climate change in the UK, hundreds of climate experts recently examined the risks from climate change faced by the UK at higher levels of warming, and discussed what’s required to make the country more resilient.

The conference, Is the UK on track to adapt to climate change?, was jointly hosted by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the UK Climate Resilience Champions at the University of Leeds and the Committee on Climate Change.

Ten key messages

We asked the experts to consider the latest scientific evidence, research and adaptation policy, and ultimately reflect on the risks and best ways to prepare. Ten key messages from the conference have been distilled into a summary note, which explores the different aspects of risk and adaptation in the UK.

You can now view keynotes by Emma Howard Boyd (Chair of the Environment Agency) and Baroness Brown of Cambridge (Chair of the Adaptation Committee for the Committee on Climate Change), as well as panel sessions from the two days on the conference webpage.

The UK Climate Resilience Programme Champions, Suraje Dessai and Kate Lonsdale, both chaired sessions for the conference. Watch a clip of Suraje Dessai’s summing up from day one and Kate Lonsdale’s summing up following panel 4.

Profound risks and opportunities

The conference concluded that climate change will pose profound and potentially catastrophic risks to the UK at higher levels of warming.  But there are things that society can and should do to respond to the risks now, drawing inspiration from innovative and effective adaptation that is already taking place, both in the UK and globally. And adaptation must take place alongside, and together, with mitigation.

The discussions will inform the new Evidence Report to underpin the UK’s next Climate Change Risk Assessment, due in 2021. Next year also sees the UK Government hosting the landmark UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow in November, where further efforts will be made to boost global ambition on both reducing emissions and preparing for the effects of climate change.

More information

Read the summary note

Watch the conference presentations on YouTube

Conference webpage: ‘Is the UK on track to adapt to climate change?’ 

Follow the UK climate adaptation conversation on Twitter using #UKClimateAdapt

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Last updated November 2020

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